With 12 picks, Steve Yzerman has plenty of ways to approach the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft. Trading up is always a risk, especially this year – but if the right player falls, Yzerman could utilize some of his capital to secure the right player.
There’s no set value for the cost of trading up in the first round, but one can get a decent sense of the price by examining previous transactions.
Back in 2018, the Rangers moved up from 26th to 22nd by shipping their 2nd round pick (48th overall) to the Senators.
In that same draft, the Blues sent their 3rd round draft pick (76th overall) to the Maple Leafs in order to move from 29th to 25th.
A year before that, the Stars moved from 29th to 26th using a third round pick (70th overall).
The recent first round swap that best resembles a potential Detroit trade-up happened in 2016. The Jets moved from 22nd to 18th by shipping away their 2nd round draft pick (36th overall) to the Flyers (The Flyers also threw in their third round pick to sweeten the deal).
It’s not a perfect science, but the going-rate seems to be a second or third round pick to move up about five spots. Considering that the Red Wings have three 2nd round picks and two 3rd rounders, finding the capital for the exchange would be no big deal.
Depends Who’s Available
The biggest factor in a potential trade up is which prospect takes a surprising fall. With such inconsistent projections in the top half of the draft, there will almost certainly be a touted player that takes a tumble.
A prospect that might force Yzerman to trade up is Sebastian Cossa. The impressive goaltender out of the OHL probably won’t’ be available at 22 – there’s a handful of other teams that’ll be looking for help in the crease (Edmonton, Calgary, etc.). But if Yzerman believes Cossa could be the answer to the prospect pipeline’s goaltending woes, he could very well trade up a few slots to guarantee the pick.
The biggest wildcard when considering a trade up? Steve Yzerman’s draft board. Yzerman has been known to trust his scouts and his own organization for analyzing talent – just look at the shocking selection of Moritz Seider at 6th overall in 2019. Let’s say Detroit has Aatu Raty or Fabian Lysell labeled as top 10 (Or even top five) prospects. If someone like that ends up in the late teens, Yzerman has the capital to move up and snatch a favored prospect.
At the end of the day, it’s essentially pointless to try to predict Yzerman’s draft day plans. Heck, he could even trade down with the pick. But considering who could fall and the amount of capital at the organization’s disposal, trading up remains a very real possibility.